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18 more countries ratify UN Arms Trade Treaty

UNITED NATIONS -- Eighteen countries, including five of the world's leading arms exporters, ratified a landmark treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar global arms trade on Wednesday.

The ambassadors of the 18 countries handed over the documents at a U.N. ceremony on the first anniversary of the General Assembly's adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which is aimed at stemming the global illegal weapons trade, estimated at between US$60 billion and US$85 billion. The new ratifications bring the total number to 31, more than half of the 50 needed for the pact to enter into force.

Five of the world's top 10 arms exporters — Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — turned in their ratification documents at the ceremony. Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia were the others.

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